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The negative consequences of the Higher Education Law 30

Although criticism to articles 86 and 87 of said law –referring to financing higher education – is very well known, a lot less known and analyzed are other effects over the organization and interaction of diverse types of institutions which are part of higher education (known as “tertiary education”): traditional universities, the wrongly dubbed “university institutions” and the technical and technological institutions, where recently they included the National Apprenticeship Service (SENA, for its Spanish acronym) programs.

It is necessary to include in this analysis diverse types of institutions that make an integral part of it, as it is a “system” and not only a political hegemony of the traditional universities. Equally important is the University State System (SUE, for its Spanish acronym), and the Network of Technical and Technological Institutions and Public Universities (REDTTU, for its Spanish acronym).

A good analytical exercise is asking how the Colombian educational system would be if 26 years ago when Law 30 was issued, they following decisions had been taken:

1. Creation of research institutions in several fields of modern technology (such as MIT, Caltech, Politécnico de Cataluña, etc.), and many sciences and engineering faculties would have strengthened technological research.

2. Technological education would not have been defined as “intermediate occupation education”, defining it as a little more than a technician but less than an engineer, generating an identity crisis of the “technician.”

3. If the conjunction, which arbitrarily linked technical and technological education, had not produced the imaginary that the latter is a little more than the former, which also sustained the scheme of education in “cycles”: from technical to technological and then from engineer to professional, with the serious lacks of basic education that this scheme implies.

4.  Creation of a consolidated and quality post-high school public technical education with international standards such as community colleges, technical colleges, hosgescholen, and many other international technical education experiences.

5. Creating these systems would have required greater post-high school public education funding to international levels of 1.5 or 2% of the GDP instead of its continued non-financing created by Law 30.

6. If extra-school professional education or wrongly named “education for work” would have not been the gigantic bureaucratic monopoly of SENA and instead they would have created a “National Fund for Education for Work” which financed and programed multiple education programs in the country in a competitive scheme with participation of public and private institutions, schools with technical education, technical institutions, SENA education centers, and even universities. Let’s recall this proposal was created back in 1999 by the Technological, Technical and Professional Education Mission.

26 years later…

1. Today we would have higher education institutions specialized in research and experimentation in diverse fields of modern technology and greater development of technological research in science and engineering faculties. Some of these new institutions would have a high academic and social status and would be considered by students as legitimate alternatives to traditional universities as occurs in many countries and shown in international rankings where there are increasingly more of these high-level institutions.

2. Colombia would currently have greater research capabilities and adaptation to new technologies to the needs and particularities of its communities and the environment. We would also have a more modern and competitive productive system.

3. This type of technological education, based on research, with strong scientific basis, would have never been linked to technical education. The conjunctive would never have been used.

4. A strong post-high school technical education, with local and national contributions, would have offered quality educational opportunities to a large percentage of the more than 625,000 youngsters which today graduate from the intermediate level, many of which do not want or have access to traditional universities, but lack educational opportunities. This system would have achieved high levels of coverage which is not necessarily true with traditional universities. This would have had an important effect of social inclusion, diminishing unemployment, contributing to “social peace”, reducing delinquency, etc. Many of these youngsters have no future due to the absence of technical modern and quality education opportunities.

5. We would not be seeing the regretful disappearance of technical education, with the continued reduction of tuition and now reconverted with a new name of “technological” education, thanks to the irresponsible use of words and names and the manipulation of occupational expectancies of students.

6. Education and training for many occupations that do not require theoretical education or development of general intellectual competencies and offered both to youngsters as well as adults with training needs would have a great development and expansion through the aforementioned “National Fund for Education for Work” in which all competent, formal, non-formal institutions and competitive SENA educational centers could participate in competitive summons.

7. This system of promotion and financing of education for work would make the National System for Tertiary Education (SNET, for its Spanish acronym) unnecessary and irrelevant, with its main conceptual fallacy pretending to integrate education for work with university education. A fallacy similar which equals SENA education to university education.


Consejo Editorial